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Old 07-16-2011   #141
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Default Soldiers Told Not to Shoot Taliban Bomb Layers

Soldiers Told Not to Shoot Taliban Bomb Layers

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Soldiers Told Not to Shoot Taliban Bomb Layers
by Andy Bloxham
The Telegraph

BLUF. British soldiers who spot Taliban fighters planting roadside bombs are told not to shoot them because they do not pose an immediate threat, the Ministry of Defence has admitted. They are instead being ordered to just observe insurgents and record their position to reduce the risk of civilian casualties.

A key part of the MoD’s counter-insurgency theory holds that it is more important to win over civilians by not killing innocent people than it is to eliminate every potential insurgent.

Much more at The Telegraph

This matter appears on The UK in Afg thread, posts 760-763: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...t=7644&page=39

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Old 07-21-2011   #142
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Default British 'Taliban fighters' in Afghanistan

A slim BBC News report:
Quote:
Two Britons suspected of fighting for the Taliban have been arrested by British armed forces in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said. The MoD said the pair, who it said "claim to be British nationals", have been detained.
Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14230458

The Daily Telegraph has some more detail, although unclear whether detained in Herat or Helmand:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...rror-raid.html

In June 2009 there was a short-lived flurry of articles about a dead Taliban fighter being found with an Aston Villa tattoo:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...la-tattoo.html

After the flurry it all went quiet.

There have been other stories about British accents being overheard and allegations that bodies were blown up in extremis situations (where removal was not possible) to hinder identification, a grenade in the mouth IIRC.

After 2001-2002 although not on my front-line radar Jihadi propaganda has not been overflowing with footage of British-born fighters or other signs. We have of course had the 'Tipton Taliban' and others who ended up in Guantanamo Bay.

I shall watch and wait for any more information.
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Old 07-21-2011   #143
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This topic touches a concept we've been tossing around at work of "Identity"

The general gist is that everybody possesses multiple "identities", and that those identities have some personal hierarchy, and that there is also essentially a cut line above which are identities one is willing to die for, and below not.

So, as example one may identify by their gender, region, profession, nationality, family status, race, ethnicity, hobbies, music likes, etc, etc.

The culture one lives in shapes a general "norm" in any given community. Our theory is that in the modern information age those "norms" are evolving far more rapidly than in the past, and there are going to be far more individuals within a community who adopt a family and hierarchy of identifies that are outside that norm.

For example, a third generation French citizen living in Paris may come to prioritize their Algerian heritage above their French citizenship.

Or a British citizen who feels strongly against the UK's policy toward Afghanistan may come to prioritize his support for those who he or she feels his country wrongly oppresses.

Over the past several years the establishment writes such events off as some sort of mental disorder, and say that someone has been "radicalized." This is a natural tendency of governments to write off such individuals as being either somehow crazy or corrupted by some powerful external force. We think it is much more a simple fact that people have free will, and are free thinking and in an age where they are exposed to so much more information have a broader range of choices that they will naturally make.

So, these men may well be British nationals, but it would be an interesting conversation to dig into how they identify, how they prioritize those identities, and how their identifies evolved to the ones that bring them to their current situation.

Just something to consider.

Bob
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Old 07-21-2011   #144
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Default British 'Taliban fighters' arrested - detention

The NYT article has a potentially important two sentences:
Quote:
Under NATO guidelines, most individuals detained by allied forces are released or transferred to the Afghan Authorities within 96 hours.

Britain has a national policy of detaining people longer than 96 hours in exceptional circumstances, particularly when authorities think they can get information to protect their forces or the Afghan population.
Link:http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2011/..._r=1&ref=world

I will reply to Bob's post another time.
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Old 07-22-2011   #145
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Damien Lewis, Bloody Heroes, bases on of his Muslim combatant characters on a "British" Jihadi, known as Ali Al-Africani by his comrades. Apparently the book was based on primary sources and narrates the early invasion of Afghanistan.
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Old 07-22-2011   #146
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
This topic touches a concept we've been tossing around at work of "Identity"

The general gist is that everybody possesses multiple "identities", and that those identities have some personal hierarchy, and that there is also essentially a cut line above which are identities one is willing to die for, and below not.

So, as example one may identify by their gender, region, profession, nationality, family status, race, ethnicity, hobbies, music likes, etc, etc.

The culture one lives in shapes a general "norm" in any given community. Our theory is that in the modern information age those "norms" are evolving far more rapidly than in the past, and there are going to be far more individuals within a community who adopt a family and hierarchy of identifies that are outside that norm.

For example, a third generation French citizen living in Paris may come to prioritize their Algerian heritage above their French citizenship.

Or a British citizen who feels strongly against the UK's policy toward Afghanistan may come to prioritize his support for those who he or she feels his country wrongly oppresses.

Over the past several years the establishment writes such events off as some sort of mental disorder, and say that someone has been "radicalized." This is a natural tendency of governments to write off such individuals as being either somehow crazy or corrupted by some powerful external force. We think it is much more a simple fact that people have free will, and are free thinking and in an age where they are exposed to so much more information have a broader range of choices that they will naturally make.

So, these men may well be British nationals, but it would be an interesting conversation to dig into how they identify, how they prioritize those identities, and how their identifies evolved to the ones that bring them to their current situation.

Just something to consider.

Bob

Can't believe I actually like something you've written. But I have to add that the concept of "multiple identites" isn't something that one can comfortably confine to the "information age" (whatever that is, sounds like a fuzzy concept to me). What the present age does do, IMO, is increase the number of competing systems of normalisation outsdie to those one normally finds within a given system of normalisation (or culutre, or discipliniary practie or knowledge/power /regime of truth, take your pick). But one also has to counter-ballance that argument with the pervasive role of a particular political ideology (liberalism) in creating a morally relativistic and anti-patriotic (in the sense of relatvising the relationship between citizen and state) climate which permits rival normative ecosystems the ability to flourish and undermine pre-existing societal norms. The division between traitor and patriot has become so blurred as to make treason actually acctractive, if not nonsensicle (for instance). Foucualt and Bordiue have some better (i,.e., more cohenrent) stuff to say on the matter this was just my hash up.
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Old 08-02-2011   #147
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Default Update: Two Britons arrested released

After a small flurry the BBC reports both released from UK custody, on 29th July:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14367282
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Old 08-02-2011   #148
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Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
After a small flurry the BBC reports both released from UK custody, on 29th July:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14367282
Perhaps the bigger story is that two were detained, presumably because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time; and released, presumably because they were not doing anything wrong.

This happens dozens of times a week in Afghanistan. Often in a person's own home in the middle of the night.

We all know how we would feel if our own local police force kicked our front doors in in the middle of the night and dragged us out of our homes in cuffs in front of our neighbors to take downtown for questioning, only to be released and sent home a few days or weeks later. That is a gross violation of justice under the rule of law and grounds for a successful lawsuit. All the more so if that act is perpetrated by some foreign military force.

Night raids have indeed reduced the number of Taliban team leaders and squad leaders on the battlefield. That is a good thing in terms of disrupting the guerrilla, counter-guerrilla operations, counter-insurgent operations. As to the effect on the larger conditions of insurgency, those underlying perceptions of discontent among the greater populace that fuels the movement and motivates people to tacitly or actively support the insurgency?? Mostly it makes them worse.

Within Afghanistan it is primarily a resistance insurgency (OK, all the "smart" guys like to point out that it is a rural rather than urban insurgency, which while true is largely irrelevant to effective operational design other than directing where one's counterinsurgent operations should be focused) The critical distinction is understanding that in Afghanistan it is a resistance, and that the harder one surges against a resistance, the harder it surges back. Also that one cannot defeat, but can only suppress, a resistance so long as the overarching revolutionary insurgency is alive and well.

The revolutionary insurgency is the torch held by the leadership of the various factions of the Taliban leadership that are primarily taking sanctuary in Pakistan. This is the highly political aspect of the insurgency that must be resolved for stability to occur. Focused counter-guerrilla operations at this level can help as a supporting effort; but the main effort must be political and must be focused at GIRoA.

A bit off task, but the rolling up and release of a couple of Brits highlights a major disconnect in our approach to understanding and addressing the problem of Afghan stability. Frankly the fastest path to stability is for the intervening force to simply leave and let natural selection take place. The problem being (as is always the problem) we fear that we, the outsiders, will not approve of what nature provides. Nothing is more stable than nature.

Ask: Are we empowering nature, or are we enabling an unnatural, and therefore unsustainable, solution designed primarily to suit our wants, needs, and concerns as we have defined them???
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"The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

Last edited by Bob's World; 08-02-2011 at 11:38 AM.
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Old 08-18-2011   #149
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Default Taliban falls out with influential Noorzai tribe

Hat tip (again) to Circling the Lion's Den for a pointer to an article on tribal dynamics, money and the Taliban:
Quote:
...the incident has embarrassed the Quetta Shura’s leadership and humiliated its military council’s chief." It has also led to serious tensions between the Noorzai and the Taliban leadership which will not easily be swept under the carpet. Somewhere in the background of all this is the growing realisation amongst many Afghans that the insurgency is deteriorating into a warlord-led free-for-all, prompting memories of the terrible period in the early 90s. Then, Afghan turned on Afghan and much of Kabul was destroyed.

The Afghan tribes have always proved to be the undoing of wannabe rulers of the country. Once again it looks like the same old same old.
Link to original article:http://www.thedailybeast.com/article...s-taliban.html

Link to pointer:http://circlingthelionsden.blogspot....fluential.html
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Old 09-09-2011   #150
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Default Hello, I'm the 'new' Mullah Omar

My title. Hat tip to FP Blog on Mullah Omar's latest epistle, which starts with:
Quote:
In a lengthy message on the occasion of the Eid al-Fitr holiday released last week under Mullah Mohammad Omar's name, the fugitive Taliban leader used a mix of "jihad-light" bravado and toned-down political rhetoric to express his group's position on key issues, as part of a push to influence public opinion that has garnered a variety of reactions from different Western and South Asian quarters.

Yet despite the hype among AfPak watchers, the message is more a reflection of an emerging dual-track strategy that promotes Omar as a credible interlocutor while masking his flaws, and is directly tied to the NATO decision to end its military engagement in Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

The new narrative, most certainly inspired by the various covert layers of mentoring (including non-Afghan) enjoyed by Mullah Omar's Quetta Shura, not only provides insight into Mullah Omar's public-relations strategy, but also aims to deflect attention from Taliban weaknesses, all while trying to bolster the group's possible future negotiating position.
Ends with;
Quote:
Given the Afghan experiences of the last three decades, it will take a lot more than just an adjustment in tone and rhetoric on the part of Mullah Omar to move the so-called reconciliation process forward, and end the current round of conflict in Afghanistan.
Ah yes, the author is a former Afghan diplomat.
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Old 09-11-2011   #151
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Letting us know they're still in the game.

Quote:
As the world geared up to remember the Sept. 11 terror attacks, a powerful Taliban truck bomb exploded at a U.S. military base in Afghanistan late Saturday, wounding 77 American soldiers and killing five Afghan civilians, including a three-year-old girl.

The attack came shortly after the Taliban issued a statement vowing to send American forces "to the dustbin of history."

In the statement, the Taliban also promised to keep fighting U.S. forces until all American troops leave Afghanistan, but they denied any involvement in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/TopStories...n-base-110910/
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Old 09-16-2011   #152
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Default The British trail to the Afghan jihad

Quote:
The successful conviction in Manchester, Northern England, of Munir Farooqi, Matthew Newton and Israr Malik, highlighted once again (as if more proof was needed) the existence of the dark connection between Britain and the war in Afghanistan. A former Taliban fighter who had returned to Manchester after being picked up on the battlefield not long after the U.S. invasion by Northern Alliance forces, Farooqi ran a recruitment network in Northern England that fed an unknown number of fighters to the fight alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan. What was most striking about the case, however, was the way it exposed the method by which recruitment cells operate in the United Kingdom, following a model that is likely emulated elsewhere in the west.
How effective was / is this method?
Quote:
It remains unclear exactly how many people Farooqi was able to persuade to go and fight in Afghanistan. One estimate published in the local press said some 20 people had been sent over, A figure that seems quite low for an operation that could have been going on for as long as eight years. However, this small number likely reflects the reality of how large the actual number of British citizens being persuaded to go and fight really is.
Link:http://raffaellopantucci.com/2011/09...-afghan-jihad/
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Old 01-05-2012   #153
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Default You Can’t Play Chess When the Taliban is Playing Poker

You Can’t Play Chess When the Taliban is Playing Poker

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Old 01-12-2012   #154
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Default Is the U.S. coming to terms with the Taliban?

Is the U.S. coming to terms with the Taliban?

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Old 01-19-2012   #155
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Default The Fog of Peace: The Delusion of Taliban Talks

The Fog of Peace: The Delusion of Taliban Talks

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Old 02-03-2012   #156
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Default Is the Taliban strong or weak today?

A broad review of the situation in Afghanistan by the BBC, Why Taliban are so strong in Afghanistan, with a focus on the Taliban, prompted by the "leaked" NATO / ISAF report, which is on this link:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=15080

I read this assessment:
Quote:
The harsh reality is that an increasing number of Afghans are turning to the Taliban, having grown mistrustful of Nato and Afghan forces.
By contrast Circling The Lion's Den cites a July 2010 opinion poll:
Quote:
The issue of whether or not the Taliban is growing in popularity is open to question. A report published by the Asia Foundation in November, Afghanistan in 2011: A survey of the Afghan People, found that support for the Taliban among Afghans has steadily declined in recent years. It found that 82 per cent of those surveyed back reconciliation and reintegration efforts with insurgent groups. The number of people who said they sympathized with the aims of the Taliban had dropped to 29 per cent compared to 40 per cent in 2010 and 56 per cent in 2009.

However, a lack of security was identified as the biggest problem in the country by 38 per cent of those polled, followed by unemployment and corruption. Seventy-one per cent of respondents said they feared travelling from one part of the country to another. Most of these problems can easily be placed at the door of the Karzai government and the Taliban can play upon its promises to restore order in the country. The survey was conducted among 6,348 adults in July 2010 in all of Afghanistan's 34 provinces, excluding some dangerous areas.
Link:http://circlingthelionsden.blogspot....t-be-true.html
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Old 02-03-2012   #157
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I think one of the things the last ten years has re-taught us is that popularity is largely irrelevant in the wider case (especially of the sort done by polling firms in war zones), though certainly it can sway individuals - what is more important is control, either through military coercion or overriding popular legitimacy.

In the Afghan case, the Taliban was never popular in the Hazarajat, but it also faced no military challenge there once it had defeated the "United Front" in 2001.
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Old 02-14-2012   #158
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Default Taliban defence minister "died in Karachi gaol"

Hat tip to Circling the Lion's Den for this report, note the source is the Taliban's website and maybe not a place to visit:http://circlingthelionsden.blogspot....r-died-in.html

An alternative website is:http://jihadology.net/2012/02/13/new...-allah-akhond/

Opening paragraph:
Quote:
The Taliban yesterday confirmed that its former defence minister....Shaheed Mullah Obaidullah Akhond ... during the Islamic Emirate had died nearly two years ago in a Pakistani prison. Their website says that he was detained on 3 January 2007 by the Pakistani government in Balochistan, but that little was heard from him after that. Only in the last few days did his family receive news from Pakistan that he died in prison in Karachi due to "heart complications" on 5 March 2010.
Closing paragraph:
Quote:
Was he seen by the Pakistanis as one of the old guard around Mullah Omar, whose outlook did not suit Pakistani interests any longer? Although he was one of those who began to reorganise the Taliban once it had fled into exile in Pakistan, it is possible that he favoured negotiations to end the conflict. He was close to Mullah Barodar, who was also arrested by the Pakistanis, some say because Barodar was also in favour of negotiations with the Karzai regime. If his death was natural why was it covered up by the Pakistanis for so long? Any more information would be appreciated.
This is all very odd IMO. Whose jail? I understand ISI has it's own custody facilities. Why no leaked news? The questions are plenty. Answers few.

Makes one wonder if recent negotiations, which included his release along with others, led to the family being notified. Hardly likely to endear ISI to the Taliban or was he just a casualty of war?
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Old 02-15-2012   #159
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Originally Posted by tequila View Post
I think one of the things the last ten years has re-taught us is that popularity is largely irrelevant in the wider case (especially of the sort done by polling firms in war zones), though certainly it can sway individuals - what is more important is control, either through military coercion or overriding popular legitimacy.
I'd think a simple calculation of who's most likely to win would trump either popularity or attempts at control. Nobody wants to be one of those who supported the losing side when the dust settles, for good reason... so people will stay on the fence, try to avoid antagonizing any armed force in their neighborhood, and lean toward whoever they think will win. Survival is a powerful motivator.
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Old 06-14-2012   #160
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Default Reconciliation with the Taliban: Fracturing the Insurgency

Reconciliation with the Taliban: Fracturing the Insurgency

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